Sisters ~ Tazria

Tazria…..okay. This is, of course, the Torah portion about the impurities of menstruation and childbirth, the illness of the skin sometimes associated with leprosy, and the rituals for purity that include social isolation. Lovely, no? This is my third Tazria d’var torah and I sometimes think, why do I keep getting the impurities parashah? I try not to take it personally.
As always, it is an honor to be here among my sisters, a good, safe place to be on a Shabbat morning. I always do lots of reading before I write midrash. I like to see what the really smart people have to say about the parshah and then “steal” their ideas. I really don’t steal ideas, they help to germinate (as in tazria for seeding) my own ideas. What the process really is, is that an idea develops kind of like the tazarat or affliction referred to in this portion. A little idea takes hold on the fringes of my mind and then spreads and develops until the D’var Torah is done. There are lots of scholarly and interesting discussions about the semantics in this portion, the parallels and conflicts between the ideas of “seeding” or rebirth and the development of affliction. I had to stop myself from reading because as fascinating as the semantics were, they were for me on this Shabbat a diversion. The parashah describes the Tzarat as a mysterious impurity that afflicts the walls of your home, your clothes and your body. Although there is a lot of focus on the reproductive in this, something a little different struck me about this portion this time. There were two resonant themes for me. The first is that the primary cause of this terrible and mysterious affliction is what most commentators translate as “evil speech”. The second is that it afflicts the least personal thing first, the walls of the home, progressing to the clothing and finally, lastly and intimately, to the person themselves. Evil speech….there is a concept. If you think hard on it the meaning is kind of elusive and yet when you hear it, and simply react to it, we all know and think the same thing about it; gossip or malice about another. Aha, so there is a golden rule moment embedded in this portion. Speak of others as you wish to be spoken of.
As a sisterhood, we are a widely varied group. In our ages, in our backgrounds, in our education and in our personal styles, politics and beliefs. We argue, we disagree, we hurt each others feelings and sometimes, just sometimes, we gossip, we back chat, we talk out of turn. You know what I mean. We all believe it is wrong, we all think we shouldn’t do it, we all try not to. But at some time or another, we all do it. And it causes disunity, difficulty and ultimately damages our Sisterhood, not to mention ourselves. I see it spreading just like tzarat, first it afflicts our walls and it progresses until it afflicts our persons, our selves and our spirits. Our purpose is to be a pillar of the Temple, a strong support, helping in times of trouble, providing leadership of culture and thought, supporting youth. Our purpose is to be a pillar for women, to help each other, to promote the values and beliefs that we do share, to build an organization that attracts new women to us. We don’t proselytize, we don’t “troll for souls”, we hope to attract by our spirit and purpose women who want a place to belong and to prosper spiritually and emotionally.
[This happened to be a “Sisterhood” Shabbat at our Temple.]

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Author: Trienah Meyers

I am a musician, writer, poet, mother, teacher. I am learning to live life differently at this new stage of life. Travel, food, music, books, friends, religion. Everything is interesting. Everything old is new again. I am also available to ghost write blog posts for you, newsletters, speeches. Proofreading/copy editing/editing also available. Or if you just want to take me travelling...

2 thoughts on “Sisters ~ Tazria”

  1. Gaylord -I had a different ‘twist.’ You write that ‘evil speech’ first impacts the “least personal — the walls of the house’. When I read ‘walls of the house’ I did not picture ‘least personal’. What came to my mind instead was that ‘evil speech’ creates some sort of opening in the boundaries that protect us and our families. The boundaries could be literal — like the walls of the house. Or, the wounds that we create in those we care about when we speak carelessly.

  2. I like your interpretation. It is that in the Torah portion the tzarat (the disease) affects first the walls of the house and only last the body of the person. But I like your comment particularly the “opening of the boundaries”.

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